In the weeks since the fall term began and students returned to campus, the residence hall mail system has experienced unprecedented issues as a result of record numbers of packages and understaffing in dorms. Students living in residence halls said their packages have been delayed or lost, and many waited in hours-long lines to pick up their items.
Amir Baghdadchi, senior associate director of University Housing Administration, wrote to The Michigan Daily in an email that there have always been delays between when Amazon, FedEx or other delivery services deliver packages to the residence halls and when they are available for pick-up. But this year, Baghdadchi said, the turnaround has been longer than usual.
“We’ve seen a historic number of packages coming into the mailrooms,” Baghdadchi wrote. “Since move-in week, we might see 700 packages come into one mail room in a day. Since then we’ve been working to reduce that delay to about three days, on average.”
LSA freshman Rebecca Adkins, who lives in South Quad Residence Hall, described experiencing significant delays in package pick-up time.
“I get notifications that my packages have been delivered and then I won’t get an email to go pick it up for a week,” Adkins said. “Recently, I got an email to pick up my package, and I went and waited probably an hour in line, and then they told me they couldn’t find the bin that my package was supposed to be in, and they told me to come back another day.”
LSA freshman Daniel Silva, who lives in Mary Markley Residence Hall, said he feels the system in his hall is not efficient. As a result, Silva said he experienced long lines to pick up his packages.
“They’re not open on weekends, which are the only days I can ever pick up packages because I am so busy during the week,” Silva said. “It’s so busy and the hours are so limited that there is always a line.”
According to the Michigan Housing website, every residence hall handles its package delivery differently. Some halls also don’t have their own mail system — for example, West Quad Residence Hall mailroom handles packages for West Quad, South Quad, Betsy Barbour Residence Hall and Helen Newberry Residence Hall.
Baghdadchi attributed many of the mailrooms’ issues to understaffing.
“The reason for delays is not unique to Housing: many businesses, from restaurants downtown to department stores, have a shortage of staff,” Baghdadchi wrote. “To make it go faster, we’re working on adding more Community Center Assistants — that’s the student staff job that would help out in the rooms, starting an increased salary for this year, $12. We’ve also made it easy for (resident advisors) to add on shifts in the mail room.”
LSA freshman Sara Taub, who lost a package earlier this semester, said the mailroom problems have delayed her daily routine.
“It’s just the whole waiting game,” Taub said. “I’m waiting to see if they find it or waiting to see if I need to order (the package) again.”
Baghdadchi said the mailroom and general residence hall staff have been working tirelessly to smooth out these issues.
“When the mailrooms are closed to residents, we actually are still working behind the scenes, logging all those packages,” Baghdadchi wrote. “So that when we open and residents show up with their message saying their package is ready, we can hand it over right away.”
Despite the issues, Taub expressed sympathy for the mailroom staff and said they have been very helpful and communicative.
“I understand that it’s not the mailroom staff,” Taub said. “They’re understaffed, and me and a lot of other students appreciate all the work that they’re doing to make sure that we get our packages as quickly as possible.”
Baghdadchi acknowledged that these problems will take time to work out, but wrote there are things students can do to make the process easier.
“We recommend students to build in about three more days onto their expected delivery time,” Baghdadchi wrote. “For certain packages, it can make sense to pick the item up from a locker or from the local outlet of the store.”
Daily Staff Reporter Paige Hodder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.